Frank Groffie's miscellany

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Biedermeier Buffet

Domestic

The Biedermeier buffet has been a pretty addition to the Groffie residence in San Jose since 2000. It's resided in our TV room, where we've used it to display candles (lit often), framed photos, and Christmas decorations and to store the kids' pencils, paper, and binders for school.

What's a buffet?
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In this context, a buffet, also called a sideboard or a server, is a piece of dining-room furniture. Its presence now is usually just decorative, and most buffets are antique. A buffet was used for storing silverware, displaying serving dishes, holding lighting devices, and serving food.

Ours has cupboards inside a cabinet with side-hinge doors, a drawer, a flat surface presumably for setting food to be served, and small pedestals, backed by mirrors, presumably for displaying candles and decorative objects.

What's Biedermeier?
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I've lifted these excerpts from an explanation of Biedermeier furniture by Håkan Groth (2013):


A remarkable example of how furniture design can reflect great historical events is provided by the emergence of the Biedermeier
style. … After Napoleon's final defeat at Waterloo in 1815, Europe settled down to a long period of peace. The middle classes, who were prospering, wanted a simpler style, which could be functional as well as beautiful. …

Like most styles, it did not have a name while it was being made, but was only given one after it had been and gone. … The
term Biedermeier came to symbolise the middle classes — reliable, with lots of common sense, in fact very boring ! Bieder is a Geman word meaning common, garden, everyday, [or] plain[, and] Meier (or Meyer) is a common German surname, like Smith.

Biedermeier furniture should not be imagined as an individual movement, but rather as a series of ideas stretching from Vienna to S
ockholm, encompassing most of the German-speaking lands, Scandinavia, Russia, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In the early 19th century, there was a tradition of craftsmen travelling around Europe seeking work, which greatly facilitated the spread of these ideas. There are, however, many regional variations to the furniture. South Germany and Austria produced pieces quite unlike those made in Berlin …. North Germany and Denmark were different again. …


Groth, Håkan, 2013, The Biedermeier style,
http://www.rupertcavendish.co.uk/Biedermeier/WhatisBiedermeier/whatisbiedermeier.htm


We're ignorant of the country of origin, maker, type of wood, or even the age of our particular piece. It may date to the original Biedermeier period of the 1820s. Or it may be an example of Biedermeier Revival furniture from the late 19th century, which is considered less valuable. Someday we'll do the research to find out.

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